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Tuesday, November 15, 2016, 00:10

CE: Block separatists from political institutions

By Luis Liu

HONG KONG - Separatists should be kept from entering Hong Kong's political institutions, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying stressed during a recent interview.

Leung made the pledge in an interview with Xinhua News Agency’s TV news network in Hong Kong, released on Sunday. It was two days before the High Court hands down a decision over the much-anticipated oath-taking scandal case this afternoon. The court decision comes a week after the nation's top legislature offered clear legal grounds on relevant issues.

Separatists should be kept from entering Hong Kong's political institutions, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying stressed

The verdict is expected to end the month-long dispute over the validity of two separatist lawmakers-elect's oath taken when assuming office on Oct 12. They were seen in a live broadcast that they altered the oath’s text, added pro-independence terms such as “Hong Kong nation” and used offensive language to insult the nation.

Referring to the public outcry against the pair, the CE said Hong Kong people should stay alert against pro-independence tendency - although very few people in the city support them.

"There should be no room for separatists in Hong Kong’s political institutions," Leung said. Besides Legislative Council members, civil servants should stand firm on the principle of political neutrality, he warned.

Leung admitted that recent statements by some civil servant groups on political issues had raised concerns.

The CE called for greater attention to the advocacy of separatism in society, including in local schools, saying it should be dealt with in accordance with law.

In the interview, Leung reiterated Hong Kong's constitutional status as one of the country's special administrative regions. "The high degree of autonomy enjoyed by Hong Kong should not be interpreted as full autonomy," Leung said. He added that such a political arrangement is promulgated in the Basic Law instead of being merely an ambiguous concept.

The central government has the constitutional power and responsibility to safeguard sovereignty, national security and interests in accordance with the Basic Law, Leung stressed.

On Monday, Elsie Leung Oi-sie, deputy director of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee under the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, told reporters Hong Kong could fulfill its constitutional duties to safeguard national security.

It could do this by amending existing laws, rather than enacting a new set of laws which could be too complex.

In her view, existing ordinances could be amended to curb treason, subversion, secession and sedition.

This might provide a new train of thinking for addressing disputes over how to launch local legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law. The article stipulates that Hong Kong should enact legislation to protect national security - especially during the emergence of people advocating separatism.

The previous attempt to bring in national security legislation in 2003 was shelved for a lack of consensus.

luisliu@chinadailyhk.com

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